ESD Team

Elevating Cyber Defense Through AI

May 1, 2024
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Elevating Cyber Defense Through AI

On the 13th episode of Enterprise Software Defenders, hosts Evan Reiser and Mike Britton, both executives at Abnormal Security, talk with Jeremy Smith, Vice President and Information Security Officer at Avery Dennison. Avery Dennison is a multinational materials science company with over 34,000 employees and over $8 billion in annual revenue. They manufacture and distribute a variety of sophisticated branding labels and adhesives, including high-tech RFID inlays. In this conversation, Jeremy shares his thoughts on the evolution of cybersecurity at Avery Dennison, the advantages of AI-powered security tools, and how cutting-edge technology enables a successful defensive strategy.

The journey of cybersecurity at Avery Dennison mirrors the broader trends impacting industries across the globe. When Jeremy began his role, he focused on traditional security measures like endpoint protection and firewalls, driven mainly by compliance needs rather than strategic threat response. However, the cybersecurity landscape at Avery Dennison underwent a radical transformation as external threats became more pronounced and diverse. The turning point came when the threat landscape evolved to include sophisticated actors motivated by financial gains by exploiting any vulnerable entity. "The game really changed for monetization when the threat actors went after anyone with pockets," Jeremy explains. This shift led to a strategic overhaul where cybersecurity was no longer just about compliance but actively defending against various digital threats. Under Jeremy's leadership, cybersecurity at Avery Dennison began to be woven into the fabric of the company's operations, aiming to foster an environment where security consciousness is as ingrained as safety in manufacturing. "In the manufacturing sector, safety has always had a very high level of awareness. The safety of our employees is very important. And we're trying to elevate cybersecurity to that level, where it's thought of intrinsically in everyone's daily life."

AI quickly becomes a cornerstone of Avery Dennison's approach to enhancing cybersecurity measures. Jeremy emphasizes its transformative potential in revolutionizing how security teams will be able to handle data and threats. "AI is going to empower us to be able not just to do the defense and prevention, but have that monitoring and understanding of environments that we really never had before." This shift towards AI-enabled monitoring allows the security team to process and analyze vast quantities of data at scale, a capability that traditional methods could not achieve efficiently. Practical applications of AI are providing significant boosts to the efficacy and impact of the cybersecurity team. This capability is critical for a company like Avery Dennison, which faces many threats across its global operations. The predictive power of AI aids in preemptively identifying potential security breaches before they escalate. As Jeremy notes, "Taking a large data set, analyzing that data set for what's normal, and then looking for deviations from it" enables the team to spot the proverbial needle in the haystack much faster than ever before. This approach enhances the team's ability to respond to immediate threats and improves their overall security posture by anticipating and mitigating risks proactively.

Regarding strategy, Jeremy discusses the unique aspects of Avery Dennison's cybersecurity program, particularly their early adoption of cutting-edge technologies. This proactive approach has included partnerships with startups to develop bespoke security solutions tailored to their specific needs. "We've been able to partner with companies that were at the startup phase, give them insights into our needs, and even work with them to really create best-in-class products," he explains. This collaboration has allowed Avery Dennison to tailor security solutions to their specific requirements and influence the development of new cybersecurity technologies that can address unique challenges. Jeremy's team works closely with product managers and tech startups in cybersecurity, providing a mutual benefit of real-world testing and feedback, sharpening their defensive capabilities. 

In an era where cyber threats continually evolve, the journey of Avery Dennison under Jeremy's leadership serves as a compelling case study on the proactive adaptation of cybersecurity measures. Integrating advanced technologies like AI and fostering a security-conscious culture are not just beneficial but essential. These strategies enable organizations to respond to threats effectively and then anticipate and neutralize them efficiently. For industry leaders and cybersecurity professionals, Avery Dennison's approach offers key insights - stay agile, leverage cutting-edge technology thoughtfully, and embed security deeply into the organizational fabric. This proactive stance mitigates risks and enhances overall business resilience, ensuring that cybersecurity evolves in tandem with both technological advancements and emerging threats.

Listen to Jeremy's episode here and read the transcript here.